Atheism, antifoundationalism, and politics

Keith Boyea

Over the past couple of years, I’ve trended strongly towards antifoundationalism, which is a rejection of fundamental truths or beliefs as a basis for analysis or inquiry. It sort of started with Nietzsche’s God is dead formulation and proceeded from there. Basically, I’ve come to doubt that there are any moral truths or any grounds for believing that their might be.

Nietzsche didn’t say there was no God but rather that the current conception of God was dead because science and modern culture had killed it. Atheist Stephen Hawking recently said “There is no heaven. It is a fairy story” but as a scientist he should know that he has no proof of that nor does anyone else.

Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, adroitly criticized the atheist view as “blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere.”

Science and modern culture have certainly killed off many superstitions, and that’s a good thing. But in my view, the beliefs that a person holds are beliefs they accept as true. That’s just as true for a scientist as it is for a Christian.

So what does America mean to an antifoundationalist who rejects life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as universals? I don’t know–how can I share in an America that I reject?

It’s a tough question for me–I don’t really know how to answer it. And none of this is to say I don’t share in America, but I am pretty skeptical of the bullshit we tell ourselves about universal values.

A lot of the bullshit the US tells itself about universal values is propaganda and rationalizations for hyper-aggressive foreign policy and endless wars, like making the world safe for democracy and humanitarian intervention. However, we are very selective about which countries we impose upon. Generally they are countries we assume won’t put up much of a fight.

We need beliefs. They are what propel us towards wanting to change the system.”Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.”